British MP Tobias Ellwood deletes video ‘lauding’ Taliban

Member of British Parliament Tobias Ellwood has expressed regret and removed a video in which he praised the Taliban for their efforts in tackling opium production and corruption in Afghanistan, following criticism from fellow MPs.

Ellwood, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, faced condemnation from a fellow Conservative member of the cross-party group for the “utterly bizarre” video that seemed to applaud the Taliban’s governance of the country.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban, commended Ellwood’s “positive” report from Helmand province, which the MP has now deleted from Twitter.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that he will “look into” the video, which was filmed during a visit to Afghanistan after the country was recaptured by the Taliban as Western troops withdrew.

A former defense minister and Army veteran, Ellwood admitted that the “video could be done better.”

Speaking on TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored, he stated, “It’s important to put your hand up and acknowledge errors, however well intentioned. I stand up, I speak my mind. I try to find solutions, especially on the international stage, and I’m very, very sorry that my reflection of my visit could have been much better worded and have been taken out of context.”

Ellwood added, “I’ll be very clear; the last couple of days have probably been the most miserable as a Member of Parliament. I got it wrong.”

Colleague Mark Francois cautioned Ellwood in the Commons, warning him to be “very careful” in expressing his views if he wanted to remain as the chair of the committee. Francois described the video as “utterly bizarre” and argued that it was “lauding the Taliban’s management of the country.”

He clarified that Ellwood was speaking for himself, even though he used the title of the committee’s chairman in several associated articles. “Not in our name,” Francois added.

Ellwood has been advocating for the reopening of the British embassy in Kabul to support progressive improvements in girls’ education.

In the now-deleted video, Ellwood asserted that security in Afghanistan had “vastly improved” since the Taliban returned to power, corruption had decreased, and the opium trade had “all but disappeared.” He suggested that Western countries should “incrementally” encourage women’s rights by engaging with the new Taliban regime.

“After NATO’s dramatic departure, should the West now engage with the Taliban? You quickly appreciate this war-weary nation is for the moment accepting a more authoritarian leadership in exchange for stability,” he said.

His remarks in the video also garnered widespread criticism among many citizens of Afghanistan within and outside the country who called it “unrealistic” understanding of the country’s situation under Taliban rule.